Today’s find is the song “Birds” from the 2018 album Nameless (Ensoul) by Montreal R&B singer Dominique Fils-Aimé. Built around little more than a plodding upright bass line and sparse handclaps with smatters of percussion, the song slowly gathers strength over its run time as Fils-Aimé’s voice is layered over itself in higher and higher harmonies. The song is striking in its use of empty space and the tension that results; the beat had me nodding my head while making the stank face, despite much of it being only suggested as opposed to entirely filled in. In this way, it reminds me of a painting at the Carnegie Museum of Art, “Elephant,” by the Dutch abstract artist Bart Antony van der Leck. You can clearly see the titular animal, despite the painting comprising a series of disconnected lines and shapes. The painting does not induce the same stank-faced reaction as the song’s minimalist beat, though.
The lyrics to “Birds” are also sparse and indirect, heavy on repetition and implication. Fils-Aimé’s words suggest a group of people on the run from impending danger, and allude to the poetry of Maya Angelou (“If you rise, I rise […] If the sun rise, I rise”.) Overall, a fascinating and hypnotic song.
Listen to more Dominique Fils-Aimé: https://singwithmi.bandcamp.com/
Listen to other stuff from this label: https://soundcloud.com/ensoulrecords